Faded Tees and Toothless Grins

By David DiazFebruary 8, 2024

Faded Tees and Toothless Grins
WORLD PEACE, SCALP, KIND EYES, and friends, Bricks Rock Bar, Maywood, January 26, 2024.

When I’m an old biddy in a rocking chair on a porch overlooking the valley or some empty quarry on the outskirts of town, I plan to be wearing a faded band T-shirt, regaling my grandkids through a toothless grin, wheezing memories of my favorite live shows. Even if music is AI-generated, concerts are Bradburian projections onto our smart-home walls, and my grandkids don’t understand, I hope that I’ll remember events like the World Peace and Scalp show at Bricks Rock Bar last month.

Nothing Less Booking and The Pit Promotions hosted a stacked bill of local and touring bands. Most of the time, an eight-band bill is effectively a mini-festival or half-day event, but when you have a bunch of powerviolence and hardcore bands with 15- to 20-minute sets, you’re left with an arguably brief night of music. Fittingly, Takedown and Daunted were the first two acts of the night and finished before stragglers on punk-time barely stumbled in. It was Takedown’s first show, and they filled the outdoor area with classic mid-tempo, breakdown-heavy songs that got people dancing even as an opener. Daunted followed, keenly treading the line between powerviolence and hardcore, combining searing blast beats and sauntering guitars interweaved with OutKast and Wiki samples; their songs beg you to stomp around the pit and stop taking yourself so seriously.

Depending on the weather or your shoes, the hardcore/punk scene can be divisive and judgmental. But sometimes at a show, when you offer to let someone use the porta-potty before you, share cigarettes with strangers, or sing “Happy Birthday” en masse to the brother of the singer from Auditory Anguish, the schism closes a little, and a two-stepping angel gets its wings. The band started like a lit fuse, blending beatdown and thrash/death metal into high-energy hardcore, and we all cheered as someone scaled the 10-foot frame tent covering the stage, dislodging one of the supports, and tumbled into a sea of open arms. Then, after a brief beer and bacon-dog break, the New Jersey hardcore/grind band Come Mierda created a wall of sound that punished and blessed. As they played songs from their demo like “Molotov Cocktail,” they stirred the room and kept us slamming.

Bands like Clique and Kind Eyes embody another kind of hardcore unity through collective subversion, and they were the next to take the stage. Serving their classic brand of political, stompy hardcore, Clique proclaimed that landlords are not our friends and begged showgoers to lament and dance at once. Then Kind Eyes grabbed the baton, playing songs from releases like Cruel World (2022) with gut-punch reminders of police brutality, social hierarchies, strange protections afforded to domestic terrorist groups like the Proud Boys, and the joyful danger of being BIPOC in public.

Scalp was the penultimate band of the night. The singer was immediately sick of us all like that moderately abusive “tough love” uncle who gives the best gifts and advice, and they tore into their set. They performed the songs “No Hope” and “Flesh Fed,” then closed with songs from their latest release, Black Tar (2023), including “Jesus Is God,” and exorcized our souls from our bodies. Finally, World Peace took the stage. I’m constantly inspired by their take on low-end powerviolence and always try to catch them when they’re in town. They played a brief 11-minute set and ripped through tracks from the albums It Is Written (2023) and Come and See (2021). Watching them sprint through 20 songs in less time than it takes to fold laundry really attests to the power of brevity.

Even still, I hope that when I recall this night on that dusty porch in that creaky rocking chair with neither teeth nor prayer, their brief set is a full 15-minute memory, and smells like wet concrete.

¤


Photo by contributor.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

David Diaz is a writer and educator living in Los Angeles, who holds an MFA from CSU Long Beach. His poetry has been published by Tia Chucha Press, San Pedro River Review, Querencia Press, and Tiny Splendor, and his freelance journalism can be found in Locale Magazine and L.A. Taco

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